Saturday, 3 December 2011



1)    Kooke (Koorka or Koorkal in Malayalam), a sort of Chinese potato grown in South India – 500 gm.

2)    Dry hot red chilies – 7 Nos.
3)    Mustard seeds – ½ teaspoon
4)    Coconut oil – 2 tablespoons
5)    Salt – 1 teaspoon

To Cook:
Soak the Kooke in a solution of 2 litres of water with an ounce (30 ml.) of vinegar for 1 hour (this is to remove the sticky dirt from the Kooke).
Wash thoroughly and drain. Use a pocket knife or a rough cloth to scrape off the thin skin. Use gloves, for the raw Kooke can give your skin a dark stain for a day. Wash once more and chop roughly to pieces. Break the dry red chilies each into 2 or 3 pieces.
Set a thick cast iron wok on high heat. Pour in the coconut oil and throw in the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds are about to finish spluttering, tip in the broken chilies. Stir once and chuck in the chopped Kooke. Sprinkle the salt. Stir nicely with a flat soft iron ladle. This will solubilize and assimilate some edible iron into the upkari. Cover with a lid. Remember to keep the ladle in the wok all the time.  Do not add a single drop of water at any time.
Once the Kooke gets hot, lower the flame. Every 2 minutes, lift up the lid and stir. When cooked, the Kooke will give out a nice aroma. Taste and add more salt if required. Now turn up the heat ever so slightly. Set aside the lid. Stir occasionally and let the Kooke roast slowly without burning.
It may take an hour or so for the Kooke to be well roasted. Switch off the heat and serve hot with rice, gruel or with porridge. This simple Kooka upkari is so delicious that it is highly prized by Konkanis.

If you can make it a habit to use cast iron woks and soft/mild iron ladles wherever possible, you can eat tastier food and avoid iron deficiencies and the concomitant synthetic iron and folic acid tablets.

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